tv Washington This Week CSPAN October 14, 2012 2:00pm-3:41pm EDT
>> this is about you. i want to come back to something that i said before. if you want someone who believes we were better off eight years ago, going back to those policies, emphasizing tax cuts mainly for the wealthy, here is your man. if you want someone who will fight for you and will fight for middle-class tax cuts, then i am your man. i want to be. now, i doubt that anyone here
makes more than $330,000 per year. if you do, you are in the top 1%. >> that would violate the rules. >> that i will not ask. [laughter] if everyone in the audience was in the middle of the middle class, the tax cuts for all of you added up would be less than the tax cuts that his plan would give to just one member of the top wealthiest 1%. >> you may not be one of those people, you're just up the right person. you talk about eight years? in eight years they have done nothing done on medicare. >> time to get something done. >> presidential town hall debates ought -- they began in
1992. in every election since, presidential hopefuls have taken questions from undecided voters. tuesday night, watch president obama and mitt romney in their town hall debate. >> former u.s. senator, arlen specter, pa., has died. in august announced he was battling cancer. over the years he fought two previous bouts with non hodgkin's lymphoma. he was elected to five terms as senator and was the longest serving senator in pennsylvania history. a republican for most of the time, he became a democrat in 2009. he was born in wichita, kan., in 1930, and served in the u.s.
air force. he received a law degree from yale university, worked on the warren commission, and practiced law before becoming district attorney in philadelphia. he was 82 years old. reaction is starting to come in. senator john mccain posted on twitter -- arlen specter, a dear friend to serve his state with honor and distinction, r i p on friday, secretary of state hillary clinton told reporters that there is still much that the administration does not know about the september 11 attack on the consulate in libya. earlier in the week the oversight committee heard testimony from department officials on whether the level of security there was adequate prior to the attack.
here is a portion of that hearing, starting with q&a from chairman carol eisa. -- daryl isa. >> yesterday made a significant press announcement. the documents in that book all indicate unclassified. are you prepared to deliver those documents to us at this time? >> my understanding is that we made an information available last night and this morning. that material is still here and we would be glad to meet with committee or staff afterwards. >> no, we want it for this hearing. the information was not classified. it was perhaps embarrassing. can you make that available at
this time? >> mr. chairman, the individual pieces may be classified, but the totality must be considered to be restricted. the context is important. >> i agree with you. with that, i now move that the unclassified document of september 11, 2012, appearing above the signature of the ambassador, to place in the record. without objection, so ordered, the staff will distribute it. additionally, i move that the document of march 28, 2012, replaced in the record without objection. so ordered. additionally, and these will have to be printed, the document
of august 2, 2012, from the ambassador and of july 9, 2012. >> without objection, so ordered. >> just to be clear, you have the documents? >> in real time, the whistle- blower has provided us with these documents. we have confirmed that they are identical to the ones being withheld. it is the determination of the chair that these documents were not classified and not appropriate for discovery. >> i was asking if you already had the documents. >> i am looking at them on the ipad. >> that is all that i asked. >> we have them, and others. they will be circulated. >> to both sides? >> to both sides. before i do my opening statement and maybe before my question, ambassador, i do not
like doing this, but ultimately the cooperation we have received has caused individuals to say things consistent with these documents being withheld. since they are not classified, we can reach no other conclusion that they are inappropriate. frankly, after my years on the hill and the intelligence committee, to say that this is classified is to make everything you do unavailable to the congress. mr. nordstrom, you have done a lot of things and i appreciate in communication. on october 1 you read this in the opening statement. do you stand by that? >> i do. that was a response to our follow up on the same day, where
we discussed a number of documents that you were interested in getting. >> in that statement you basically said that there was not sufficient resources provided, considering the escalating coming together of what could turn out to be a catastrophic attack. is that a fair paraphrasing? >> that was one of the main reasons i asked for those resources, yes. we had an informal bipartisan meeting with you. >> in that you related something that i thought was important. you asked about ambassador stevens, a skilled career diplomat, and how he dealt with threats related to security. we told me that when there was a perceived threat in his running, he ceased running.
when you and the colonel came up with an acceptable way to continue basin where he went, he ran again, but only under your authority and recommendation, is that correct? >> it is correct, chairman. >> did he do what you thought when you recommended it? did he change it at any time based on what you thought was best for his security? >> at no time or any concerns raised to me by ambassador stevens. the colonel, a senior member of the team, there were general concerns there might be over his schedule. one of wall received this morning was posted to facebook,
we came across that threat as a result. senator mccain came out to post to review the elections, in early july. my point is that he was absolutely responsive when he referred to our concerns. >> thank you. yesterday you told us in testimony that you received from mr. nordstrom a recommendation, but not a request for more security. you admitted that you had previously said that if he submitted a request, you would not support it, correct? >> after the meeting last night, i went back. >> first, answer the question, then i will let you expand. did you say that yesterday? the you would not support if given the request? >> under current conditions,
yes. >> what did you discover? >> i went back to review the cable from which i was referring. i have been referring lots of them. >> we have the cables from the ninth, one was in the record. it does not meet the standard of whatchamacallit formal request, but he does request more assets. if you look at the july 9 cable, this is broccoli less than 60 days beforehand, the request continued security support for an additional 60 days. yesterday you told us, under penalty of perjury, essentially, that it was not a request, it was a recommendation. are you prepared to say that they requested the staff at -- assets above and beyond what they had on september 11?
>> no, we discussed that there was no justification that normally comes with a request. that cable was a very detailed and complex cable. >> we have now read it and it is detailed. in several places it expresses concerns. the cable from the now deceased ambassador expresses current concerns on that day repeatedly in cables that were denied to us, we see people telling us about al qaeda-type organizations coming together. now, the problem have is the state department is basically saying that mr. nordstrom did not do his job and make a formal request, the ambassador did not do his job and did not make a good enough case. that is what you are standing behind here today. of the compound owned by us and
serving like a consulate, it was in fact breached less than 60 days before the murder of the ambassador in the facility. is that not true? >> sir, we had the correct number of assets in been gauzy at the time of 9/11 for what had been agreed upon. >> my time has expired. to start off to -- to start off by saying you had the correct number and people are recovering in hospital and we have a dead ambassador because of only took moments to reach the facility, somehow that does not ring true to the american people. >> ok, thank you. >> testimony here today painting a different picture than what was in the press, you say that
you were impressed with the plan that would send the team to libya, a massive show, that would further explain "the department of state service mission libya officers conducted themselves professionally with careful attention to managing budgets in a way that reflected the gravity. did you say that? >> yes. >> lee said the vast majority were "considered seriously by the department? did you say that? did you mean that? >> absolutely. >> did you mean that? >> absolutely. >> in fact, you listed out all of that is helpful to put into context the concerns you have
raised about staffing numbers. in your interview on october 1, you told the committee that you thought there should be five diplomatic agents stationed in benghazi and you sent two cables making that request, is that right? >> that's correct. that was not my question for benghazi. that cable detailing the future of operations in benghazi. that cable was drafted in the department.
i had at no time an opportunity to add or comment on that, however, the principle officer in benghazi had an opportunity to comment on than. it was that number five that d.s. committed to that we continued to ask them to meet throughout my time there. >> we reviewed that july cable and it states further anticipates supporting the operations in benghazi with at least one criminally assigned r.s.o. from tripoli, however, would request continued tv wide support to fill a minimum of three security positions in benghazi. so that would be a total of four, is that right? >> that's correct. >> i understand you left libya before the attacks, is that right? >> that's correct. >> we have now been told there were, in fact, five special agents in benghazi the night of the attack, contrary to the press reports. can you verify whether there were five special agents in benghazi on the night of the attack.
and were there any additional armed guards on that night? could you answer those two questions, please? >> yes, sir, there were five special agents on the compound the evening of september 11, and there were three additional armed security personnel provided by the government of libya. >> now agent lamb, how do you -- i've evaluated it with nordstrom and with a senator r.s.o. that spent time there as well. i asked them to do a serious assessment of the numbers that were needed there. when mr. nordstrom and i discussed the duties of the agents out in benghazi, they were using one agent to drive the vehicle and they were using another agent to watch classified communications equipment 24/7. so these are not normally duties that are assigned to d.s. agents so i asked eric to review that and then when renee, another r.s.o. went to benghazi was also asked to review the
number. and post management asked them to hire a driver and we hired a driver, trained a driver. and then the driver took the place of what the d.s. agent was doing. and then they came up through technical security means a way around the need to have the 24/7 coverage. >> when the ambassador traveled to benghazi before the attack, could the security team in tripoli have sent additional agents with them if they thought it was necessary? >> absolutely. >> would the gentleman yield in -- >> yes. >> were there any that came down with the ambassador?
>> two. >> that's not the same as five being in benghazi ordinarily? >> no, sir. >> there would have been two more coming with the ambassador for a total of seven. >> so just one question. mr. nordstrom, the cable we talked about asked for four agents, not five, is that right? >> if you could clarify which cable? i sent a number of requests back. >> the july cable >> it asked for four, not five? >> it asked for a minimum of three and at the time the plan was we had three permanently assigned agents in libya, myself
and two assistants. >> so there were five on the night of the attack, is that right? >> that was my understanding, although i was not there. >> we recognize the former chairman of the committee for his questions. mr. burton. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. kennedy, right after the september 11 attack, you were up here on capitol hill giving a briefing to aids and, in fact, you said this appears to be a terrorist attack, do you stand by that? >> what i said mr. chairman was that -- former chairman-- >> sir, i have just presented the facts as they've come across. i am not making any judgments on my own. >> let me ask you a couple of other questions. there were 16 troops that were there at that compound. and they requested them to be
kept there. and they sent a suggestion to you that they be kept there and then you responded saying that if that was presented to you, you would not accept that. was that your sole decision? >> sir, they were not in benghazi, they were in tripoli. >> i understand. >> and when the cable came in where mr. nordstrom laid out all of his staffing requirements and needs, i asked our desk officer to go back and sit down with him or through e-mails and telephone conversations to work out all the details and line up exactly how many security personnel, armed security personnel did he need. >> you did not agree with that assessment that they needed those there?
you knew about all these other attacks that had taken place. >> we had been training local libyans and arming them for almost a year. >> let me interrupt, the local libyan militia that was there knew there was going to be an attack on that compound so many of them left. involved't want to be in the attack. so i don't understand why you would say that out of hand that you don't think those 16 troops should be there. >> sir, with due respect, they were in tripoli, not in benghazi and it would not have
made any difference in benghazi. >> mr. nordstrom, do you care to comment on this? >> beginning in about january, february time frame, i had a number of conversations with lamb, with the regional director and also the desk officer for libya itself. and a lot of those discussions were specific to determining what exactly our personnel needs were, looking at matrix and the duties would be that these personnel would be doing, be it d.o.d. sourced or department sourced.
the number that we continued to come up with and it is generally the same number that was requested in march in my first request was approximately 12 armed security, with an additional six persons that would be focused on training that local guard unit. >> would the gentleman yield? >> i'll be happy to yield. >> isn't it true we had this in testimony yesterday, they'd have as much as 30% turnover per month in the people you were training. you weren't getting good career people coming in and had high turnover in the unarmed and armed portion of the training? >> we had -- just for clarification, the guard force was somewhat confusing. in tripoli, the guards that we employed were directly hired by
the embassy. >> i'm only speaking of benghazi. >> those were subcontracted. the decision to go with the subcontractor was largely based on how long we would be in benghazi. we were concerned if we brought on board full-time employees, then we would have to find positions for them if that post went away. so yes, there was very high turnover with those people. in terms of the guard that were there in february, they were there for the duration. >> if you want to finish up, that will be fine. >> they did go to benghazi on two different occasions to bolster the security that was there. she made trips and they were needed there for the extra -- just the extra movement she had
and to guard the compound and provide a quick reaction for us if necessary. we did that on, like i said, two separate occasions to provide that extra support. the s.s.t. alone to the security force, what goes above and beyond normal law enforcement oriented security. these individuals were familiar and cared larger caliber better weapons and the tactics they employed would be the counter military style attack. >> thank you. >> ambassador kennedy, i want to make sure i clarify one of the most controversial parts of this matter and that is how the public first learned of the first reason given for the disturbances in benghazi.
now i understand that the state department did not take any position, including the position taken by ambassador rice, so i think it's important to trace how the ambassador came to the conclusions that she reported on television. she said that her information was that the benghazi matters were similar to the protests that had arisen in cairo and she referred to extremist elements, opportunistic elements taking advantage of that protest.
now the director of the office of national intelligence issued a statement that indicated that the been the source of the ambassador's statement. and i'd like to read what the national intelligence director said. in the immediate after math there was information that led to us astheas the attack began spontaneously following protest later that day at our embassy in cairo. we provided that information to congress who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and to provide updates as they became available. throughout our investigation we continued to emphasize that information gathered was preliminary and evolving. i note by the way that mr.
nordstrom, you say in your testimony, i'm looking at page two, that the verocity and intenseness of the attack was nothing we had seen in libya or i had seen in my entire time in diplomatic service indicating this was something of a surprise attack. and i might say suggesting maybe we should be rethinking about how we can protect our outpost. but what i read as the statement ambassador kennedy, could i ask you if you have any reason to doubt that ambassador rice relied on that information from the national intelligence director? >> no, ms. norton, when i came up to give a briefing earlier that week, followed a day or
two later by ambassador rice, both of us were relying on the same information. i said in my oral statement that if i or any other senior administration official, career or noncareer would have been on that television show, other than susan rice, we would have said the same thing because we were drawing on the intelligence information that was then available to us. this has been a very much evolving situation. what we knew that first week has evolved over time so we know much more now than we knew then. >> the national director issued a statement on the 28th and he said as we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment indicating it was a deliberate terrorist attack cared out by extremist. so we see the evolving nature of it. look, i have to ask you the
diplomats who were stationed in cairo who were accused by governor mitt romney of sympathizing with the attackers, i'd like to know how these diplomats, these personnel in ky oh row -- cairo reacted to that criticism? >> i don't know. i've not had any conversations with them. but i'd like to assure you just from my general knowledge there is not a foreign service officer or foreign service professional in our service who sympathizes or grease with terrorists. >> we now go to the gentleman from ohio. >> let's understand what you're saying here today is that one piece of intel got you guys, yourself and secretary rice or
ambassador rice to make a wrong statement five or six days later and still be making it. because sunday is a long time after tuesday. so you're saying you got it wrong, it stayed wrong and you didn't know any better between the 11th and the 16th, is that right? >> the information that was available to both myself -- >> ambassador, you're a great witness historically. i asked you did you have any contrary knowledge over those five days? >> no, sir. >> you don't know any better is your testimony. thank you, sir. >> may i ask we give mr. jordan his full five minutes? >> be honest -- >> i ask unanimous consent the member have 15 seconds.
>> objection. mr. chairman, with all due respect. you just allowed mr. burton to go over by two minutes and you're giving mr. -- >> i'm sure it's going to balance tout time. >> we have gone over and i'm going to pull it back into five minutes. >> before we get to your part of the day we will get there. >> without objection, the ranking member is given equal time to ask a question, please. >> i want to go back to you ambassador. i think that was a very critical question. mr. norton talked about the five days. can you explain that to us that during that period, five days or whatever it was, not having the
information contrary to what ms. rice may have said. i understand it was based on intelligence. but can you explain how that could happen to the public? in other words, were you all still gathering information, what was going on there, do you know? >> mr. comings, we were gathering information from the intelligence community. we wanted to know what was happening more than anyone else because we also had dozens of other embassies we were concerned about. so we were looking for every piece of information we could get from no matter what rational and reasonable source to feed into our consideration of what steps we should take to protect -- >> is it unusual for you all to rely on the intelligence community for that kind of
information? >> we have a great partnership with the intelligence community and we heavily depend on the information they provide us just as they depend on information we provide them. >> now the gentleman from ohio has five minutes. >> how many months were you in libya? >> i was in libya approximately six months. >> mr. nordstrom, how many months were you in libya? >> approximately ten. >> ms. lamb how many times have you visited libya? >> i have not >> none since the security incidents in libya? >> no, sir >> how many times have you been to libya? >> none. >> we had numbers earlier from mr. nordstrom, you talked about
three/five in libya. and you wanted 12 plus a back up of six. in your testimony mr. kennedy, you said the department regularly assessed risk for security a process which considered judgment for professionals using the best information available. so that process, i want to know how the decision was made. are you involved in that process ambassador kennedy? >> most normal occasions i am not involved. >> are people in the white house involved in that process? >> if there are disagreements between the post in the field and the diplomats -- >> would you classify what took place here a disagreement? >> no, sir -- a this didn't reach disagreement level. i would describe it as a dialogue -- >> this didn't reach a disagreement? >> no, sir, it did not. >> mr. nordstrom let me turn to
you then. i want to know in the e-mail that congressman referenced earlier, the interview you had back on october 1, you stated this was a post to reduce security resources in accordance with artificial time lines. yet today in your testimony it was a little different as the ranking member brought out and mentioned the answer should not be to operate from a bunk. i want to ask you these questions. first of all, since that interview with the chairmen, staff indicated they tried to contact you six different times and you did not respond. is there a reason you didn't respond? >> that's correct. >> is there a reason you didn't
respond? >> i was advised by state >> who -- our legislative office >> did ms. lamb tell you to do that? no >> did secretary clinton tell you to oh do that? >> no >> who told you that after you gave us this information? >> i was advised by the assistant secretary boswell's office that his staff that all request for information and documents would need to be vetted or routed through that office. >> did those same individuals help you prepare today's testimony? >> in the sense of providing general guidelines on how -- >> did they tell you they wanted to look it over before you came and gave it today? >> of course. >> did they write it for you? >> no, they did not. >> ms. lamb, i want to go back to this decision making process. so is it customary to not listen -- i would characterize
listen as intently as you should have to the guys in the field when they requested the 12 plus the six backup? >> yes, sir, i listen intently to those conversations. >> mr. wood, let me bring you into the conversation here. i want your comments on that specifically, the number you wanted in libya plus the additional six. >> we agreed to the numbers between eric and i and put forth those numbers. we felt great frustration the fact that those demands were ignored. >> so the process when i was asked ambassador kennedy, tell me who you felt was involved in that process? who were the folks in washington in that process? >> i heard eric nordstrom refer to ms. lamb as far as the deciding authority on providing those additional resources. >> experienced professionals on the ground in washington, who were the other experienced professionals in washington that helped make that decision?
>> i don't know >> mr. nordstrom, who else? somebody had to decide, someone in washington was telling you guys you couldn't get what you wanted, was it just ms. lamb or were there other people? >> i can't speculate in terms of who was. i dealt with our regional director and then ms. lamb. the ambassador in the d.c.m. raised the same concerns. the d.c.m. met with ms. lamb raised the same concerns in person. it's my understanding additional phone calls were made. all of us at post were in sink we wanted these resources. >> on behalf of ms. lamb, ambassador kennedy. briefly, please. >> absolutely, mr. chairman. i was asked on a different question, i was asked whether i was going to request a third extension of the s.s.t. i consulted with my colleagues and because our colleagues had put together -- >> that's not what you said
earlier. you said you weren't involved. which one is it? >> this question will be for the next round for both of you. with that, we recognize the gentleman from ohio. >> mr. kennedy has testified today that u.s. interest and values are at stake in libya and that the u.s. is better off because we went to benghazi. do you think that after 10 years in iraq and 11 years in afghanistan that the u.s. would have learned the consequences? you would think that after trillions have been wasted abroad while our infrastructure crumbles at home congress would reexamine priorities.
today we're engaging in a discussion about the security failures in benghazi. there was a security failure. four americans including our ambassador, ambassador stevens were killed. their deaths are a national tragedy. my sympathy is with their families. there has to be accountability. i haven't heard that yet. we have an obligation to protect those who protect us. this security decration did not happen over night. we could talk about hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts over the last two years for
blind prosperity. we could talk about whether it's prudent to rely on security contractors rather than our own military or state department personnel. we could do a he said she said about whether the state department should have beefed up security in benghazi. we oh it to the diplomat i can corp to start at the beginning and that's what i shall do. the unchecked extremist groups exist because our nation spurred on a civil war in libya. and no one defends gaddafi. libya was not in a melt down before the war. in 2003 gaddafi gave up his pursuit of nuclear weapons. it made our country and world safer. during the spring up rising as cross the mid middle east. based on those verbal threats we intervened absent constitutional authority i might add. we bombed them, we lacked any civil authority control for security. al qaeda expanded its presence. there are thousands of missiles
on the loose. our mill tire intervention led to greater instability in libya. many of us made that argument to try to stop the war. it's not surprising given inflated threat and the expectations inherent in our nation building in libya that the state department was not able to protect our diplomats decades of foreign policy contributed to instability in the rise of militias around the world. it's hard to stop the war in iraq, the war in afghanistan, the war in yemen, the war in pakistan. it's hard tore recognize
congress to stop st. drone attacks that are killing civilians. we want to stop the attacks on our embassies, let's stop trying to overthrow governments. let's avoid the hype. let's look at the real situation here. interventions do not make us safer. they do not protect our nation. they are themselves a threat to america. now mr. kennedy, i would like to ask you, is al qaeda more or less established in libya since our involvement? >> i will have to take that question for the record. i am not an intelligence expert. >> you don't have the intelligence you're saying? i'm going to go on to the next question. >> i think the other two may have an opinion also if you wanted to ask them. >> i wanted to ask ambassador kennedy. >> next question, ambassador
kennedy. how many shoulder to air missiles are capable of shooting down passenger airlines are missing in libya? can you answer that question? >> no, sir, i'll be glad to provide it for the record. >> you don't know? >> no, sir, i do not know. it's not in my normal purview. >> does anybody know how many shoulder to air missiles that can shoot down passenger airlines? >> the rough approximation is between 10,000 and 20,000. >> the gentleman's time has expired. if anyone has an answer, they can answer >> >> yes, sir, their presence grows every day, they are certainly more
established than we are. >> with that, we recognize the chairman of the subcommittee and a determined individual to get to the bottom of this. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. nordstrom, as we spoke before and i think it's clear on the record, you were asking for more personnel and that was either rejected or denied or just simply ignored, correct? >> actually, to clarify, we were asking just to keep what we had. and when you weren't able to keep what you had, what happened to your pay and the other security officers on the ground? >> i'm sorry. as i recall what you told me what that was denied, you were given a pay increase, they increased your pay? >> what i think you're referring to is the increase in danger pay for post as part of normal procedures we're asked for input at post.
i as part of that process would provide information, not security. >> you were asking for more assets, more resources, more personnel, that was denied but the state department went back and classified it as more dangerous therefore increased your pay. they didn't tell you they didn't have resources. they gave you a pay increase because the danger was rising? >> yes >> did the benghazi meet the standards. after the bombings beirut we went back and formalized some standards. did they meet those standards? >> negotiate the buildings in benghazi nor tripoli met those standards nor was there a plan for the next phase of construction would they meet the standards either. that was scheduled to be on the ground for approximately ten
years. that was a major cause and concern and that was the major security issue we continued to raise. >> i would continue to point to an august 20 cable that you and officials believed the supreme security counsel is fading away unwilling to take on anyone from powerful tribes. this backed the washington d.c. said incidents continue in this security vacuum in benghazi. i would also point to september 4 in their memo maximum alert. a maximum alert september 1. this was the information that was coming. and what's infuriating is that we have hundreds of terrorists activities, our consulate is bombed twice, the british ambassador has an assassination attempt and you're arguing about whether the number was five or two or five or flee.
and the security officials who haven't even been to libya wouldn't give the resources you asked for. did you participate in any way shape or form to request for additional personnel in libya and what was the consequence of those requests? >> yes, i did. with s.s.t. support. i reviewed some of those documents perhaps it was the second request for extension that occurred in april 5, the ambassador uncovered some difficulty in understanding what was going on. he was getting conflicting signals.
i got him to get there with the general and a day made it very clear to the ambassador that he could have the sst as long as they needed him. it was also made clear to the person who took over in charge of affairs. he came personally and told her that. he had a vtc with ambassador stevens and said the sst was his as long as they needed it and the general was willing to provide that support. >> did you ever asked charlene's lamb, did she ever ask you not to ask for an extension? >> i recall to specific phone
calls, one in february, one in july timeframe. i had the opportunity to refresh my recollection. they happen to be in the living room of the ambassador's residence, which we used as our office. in those conversations, i was specifically told you cannot request an extension. how i interpreted that was there is going to be too much political cost or that for some reason, there was hesitancy on that. in the first case in february, the ambassador and i felt strongly about the need for that and we went ahead and requested it anyway. >> thank you. we now go to the gentleman from massachusetts. we appreciate his patients for five minutes. thank you. i want to thank the witnesses to hell the community with its
work. i want to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifice of ambassador stevens, the former navy seal and glenn party who was a famous -- was a favorite son of massachusetts, my home state, and the communications specialist, sean smith. i want to make two points -- the best way to honor the memory of those american heroes is to address the global issue of embassy security. so that when we assign other brave americans to fill these posts, that they do have adequate security. many members of this committee on both sides of the aisle here have traveled to the middle east dozens and dozens of times. we have -- the chairman has mentioned damascus, syria,
beirut, lebanon, i just came back from yemen where at least in yemen they are undergoing some structural changes in response to the threats there. we have some embassies that predate the attacks on the roe v, kenya or in tanzania, so that we have old world and the seas located right on the streets in the middle east that are terribly exposed to car bombs and attacks. the best way to approach this thing is number one, take a holistic approach and figure out how we can prevent this kind of thing from happening again. my second point, that easiest way to strengthen embassy
security is to get on the same page. i have to tell it like it is and in recent budgets, republican colleagues supported cuts to funding for embassy security. the first thing you have to do to strengthen embassy security is to try to meet secretary clinton's request for funding for embassy security. that will help a lot. ambassador kennedy and ms. lam, what would a few hundred million dollars cut from the president's request and secretary clinton's request for embassy security, what would that mean to you in terms of providing that level of protection that every son and daughter of america deserves when they accept that post to go into a dangerous area,
especially some of the spots we have in the middle east, what would that few hundred million dollars to to your ability to provide adequate protection on their behalf? >> if we receive the presence budget request, we would be able to construct new facilities and be able to upgrade additional facilities to get to the higher standards we seek. >> of want to go back to the chairman's. -- the situation in damascus and in beirut. in damascus, we have withdrawn our embassy personnel, but we have the same problem there. when things get straightened out, we are negotiating, had personal conversations with the president a couple of years ago about getting a new facility there. do we have a task force looking
at providing the setback we need to provide that level of protection and relocate these embassies? >> we have a strategic plan, we know which embassies are more and dangerous -- are more in danger than others. but there are limitations on funds. i can only construct seven new facilities each year depending on the funds i have available to me. >> i want to go back to one. -- in your written testimony, you mentioned in addition to the security team, i believe you described it as a rapid response force. how many folks are in that rapid response task force or team? >> there were seven, and their job was to hookup --
>> . of order. the john will state his point of order. >> i will renew my deep concern that we're getting into an area that is classified and should be classified. dealing with the map is one issue. i believe the markings on that map were terribly inappropriate. the activities there could cost lives. >> on the point of order -- you may speak on the point of order. this whole hearing is responding to allegations there were not enough people on the ground at the benghazi facility. all of the sudden that's off the record and classified information, you've got to be kidding me. >> i am prepared to rule. unless you are prepared to get clearance to declassify any and all information about additional
personnel, this hearing will be limited to the information already given, which is the amount of individuals who responded from that rapid force. this hearing is not specifically about september 11, but is intended to clarify much more prospectively failure, accountability, decisions. i don't want to overly state this, but i don't think any of us figure that sense for people are dead, something went wrong. having said that, has previously been testimony to the individuals that have responded. i would recommend the entire committee have a classified briefing as to any and all assets that were not drawn upon but could have been dropped on and ask the gentleman to respect that and i would yield the gentleman an additional one minute to finish questioning. >> mr. ambassador, can you
clarify any answer on that question? >> certainly. the u.s. mission, the american embassy, annexes in benghazi where in to compounds. we could not fit on one compound. it was a mutual assistance arrangement that had worked up by regional security officers so that if one compound came under attack, security personnel would flow from one to the other or vice versa. it is a common practice. we were very, very interested in making sure we get the maximum utilization or security personnel in any country and we are mindful and respectful of the general security concerns. >> thank you.
i yield back. >> one point of clarification -- mr. nordstrom, it with your time, or any of those people in your control or how specifically could you ask them? >> i am glad you asked that question. in being completely cognizant, have some of the same concerns. all of the people were under the chief mission but not all security people followed by direct operational control. >> that clarifies it. we now go to the gentleman from oklahoma. >> i need to shift my question below live base on some of the conversations we had so far. where were you working september 11? were you in the washington area? >> yes. i was in the command center on the evening of the event. >> you note that in your testimony and you make this
statement -- i could follow what was happening almost in real time. >> correct. >> once they hit the button, it says you could have, is that real time? what they were making multiple phone calls and it is very important to communicate with the amex in tripoli because this is where the resources were coming from. they would hang up on us and call liftback. >> after a very long night, they are evacuating to tripoli. were they in communication with you once they got into tripoli? >> at that point, and the seat tripoli to cover communications. >> you had no other communications after they got to tripoli? >> they notified us when it was wheels down, when they got to
the -- and they notified as to when they were wheeled out. >> i cannot imagine the emotion of that for you. you had no other connection to notice details of that. these frantic phone calls, they get to tripoli and you are not aware of what just happened? >> we continue to follow them but half the team had to be rushed to hospital and treated. they had just been through -- >> your detailed account of this is terrific. >> at this point, providing them the comfort to come down from the adrenaline and horror of what happened, we respected that and work with our colleagues in tripoli. >> here is my struggle with that -- you are listening in on a command center and in
communication with what is going on. you get to tripoli and people are checking on them and yet the state department is testifying five days later that they didn't know what happened? it was a coordinated terrorist activity. maybe this was some spontaneous and then when there was constant communication happening. did someone come to you and ask you if this was a protest? i would assume you knew quickly because there was not even a protest there that day. it's like there was a big group of people and 25 people jumped out and shooting. there was no gathering and i assume you do that immediately. >> it was not clear. it was a very large compound and each individual agent was looking at what was happening from a different perspective. >> was it clear to you there was not a protest going on?
>> it happened so fast when they rushed to the gate. >> i understand. but the initial reports were this was some large protest that happened over a video and people were running out with bobby -- with rpgs, i have a hard time believing you're tracking with it -- what's occurring in people reporting back the next morning that someone didn't say here is what occurred and the word protest never came out and five days later, no one knows? >> they were all fighting for their lives on that compound -- >> i completely understand that. but the testimony seems to be conflicting. we're getting reports that this was the intelligence community that made this report. but you were aware of what happened and what went on and
pokes at the embassy, i can't imagine five, six, seven days later, the white house press secretary giving the same work seven days later. i am amazed this whole dialogue today -- it seems like no one knew and there is his best case scenario coming out and i'm struggling with the basic facts. to put all these pieces together when i am getting conflicting stories. >> there were multiple reports coming out. >> any reports saying it was a protest? >> there were reports coming out that we received saying there were protests and i will not go any farther than that. then things evolved.
if i could, one other thing -- >> usage would not go any further, i would only ask why. if you want to revise and extend other things, but why would you go any further? >> because i don't want to cross certain lines in open session. >> in this setting, you cannot tell us where they came from? >> in open session. >> if the gentleman will conclude. >> there is ongoing conversation happening. there's ongoing conversation in tripoli. i find it difficult 5, 6, seven days later, this same story is coming out and there was constant communications. it's a difficult story for me to leave. >> if i could, as i said in my opening statement, there were
multiple reports where you are trying to reconcile report. because we regard our responsibility to keep congress informed, we came up very early to talk when we still have multiple threads out there. we were not about to precipitously reconcile those multiple threads. >> i appreciate that and i appreciate the fact that two days later you call that a terrorist attack. as i passed it to the minority for a moment, yesterday in a closed session, ask you for the 50-minute tape that would allow us to see the video feed available. have you been able to make that available? on both sides, we would like to
see that video turned over by the government fairly quickly. >> i have made it clear to the other government agency that has the state, have communicated your request to them. >> with your recommendation that they turn it over? >> since this involves an investigative process on this part, i need more on the investigative process. >> i apologize i only barely learned about this briefing in order to get there for a few minutes of it. i want to confirm the fbi is doing an investigation. they have custody and another agency does. i have no doubt that it's the fbi that has custody of that tape. >> at that same briefing, we
were not invited. we didn't even know about it. >> were you invited? >> i learned about it in a discussion with secretary of state and i went up there and only then discovering they were surprised to see me. but i'm glad i went and i'm glad i had the opportunity to confirm the existence of a 50- minute tape that has been floating around that is not needed by the fbi but is in the custody and another eight. but we don't want to do anything to interfere with an ongoing investigation, do we? >> i would like this committee to have that tape before the press has it and we should have had it today. it's not interfering with an investigation. both the park meet -- both of our committees have had, we were told when the wall was blown up some months earlier, they did
not see it blown up because they did not have the video equipment to do it and it was pointed the wrong way. they told us they did not have enough people to man the top because they were not able to pan and look for. they told us they did not have the people inside and much of that is perhaps beyond the scope. since people told us what assets they had in specificity, and that will be in the report, i would like to see what those tapes did discover. mrs. lamb told us there was somebody monitoring the talks. we were told they slept there and there were not people to be constantly panning the cameras, so i would like to see when they began panning them. there is multiple evidence we've not gotten. we're not going to get it here today. >> we defer to the law enforcement investigated element
on this matter. >> the fbi told me they don't have it and it's not theirs and they don't need it. hopefully you will stop using law enforcement and another part of government. >> we now go to the very patient gentleman from tennessee for five minutes. >> all americans mourn the loss of four brave americans who died in benghazi. i think it's important we put their sacrifice and historical context. serving america abroad is dangerous. certainly every u.s. veteran knows it. freedom is not free. our state department personnel of that also. sometimes civilians, comfortable here at home, forget. sometimes these events are not covered as they should be. sometimes we're focused on other things.
i would like to read an honor roll of the fallen from a previous time. these men and some women died as victims of terrorism. was in a different time when we had a great president, ronald reagan, who is particularly known for his strength on national defense. i was only able to find a database of the navy and marine victims, but there are 56 dead, 46 wounded, and a lot of us remember that as more or less a peaceful time. it was not. so let me read it -- [reading name] killed by turkish leftist and in stempel turkey. killed in custer rica, one crewman killed, attacked by
terrorists in pr. one security guard wounded in beirut, lebanon. terrorist bombing in london on. lt. cmdr killed by terrorists in san salvador. corporal san pedro killed in cyprus. capt shot by terrorist near athens, greece. the 10 a corporal -- lt. corporal killed in a terrorist attack in germany. hospital man wounded in beirut, lebanon. a petty officer first class, assigned to the defense attache office, killed. civil engineer corps builder, killed, boulder first class, and
four marine security guards wounded and -- in the terrorist bombing in -- in east beirut. a steelworker, a second-class of underwater construction team won, killed by terrorists in athens, greece. of the marines assigned to a security guard detachment, san salvador, killed by a terrorist armed with automatic weapons in a cafe in san salvador. 37 killed, five wounded when the uss stark was struck by iraqi missiles. a terrorist grenade attack at the uso club in barcelona, spain. colonel richard higgins killed by two pro-iranian terrorists, some one struck by an iranian mine. japanese red army terrorist of
the u. s. 0 club in naples, italy. lost and attack helicopter during an operation against iranian naval forces. a captain and defense naval attache killed by a terrorist car bomb in athens, greece. that was just during one the administration of president known for his strong defense policy. we should be thankful for the sacrifice of our men and women abroad. as you point out, you are in charge of two and 75 post from the world. to many americans cannot find these places on a map, much less appreciate the sacrifice and risk involved. i appreciate the lieutenant- colonel and mr. nordstrom and in particular for helping to revise the security needs in these posts, because the dangers are incredible.
especially when we can live in comfort here at home. thank you for your service and sacrifice. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> my family would like to honor the memory of our fellow patriots who lost their lives in this sense with and preventable act of violence committed on september 11 in benghazi, a day that will forever be regarded as a bait for unity and american citizens and a warning -- as a date for unity among american citizens and a warning. in an interview at the committee yesterday, mrs. lamb said in may, 2012, aaa said things were going so great, the rso gave up six of the 16 ssts.
again, the functions they were being used for were being slowly filled by local and national employees. lieutenant would, is it true in your time in libya that things were going that great? would you describe the conditions from your personal point of view? >> yes. from my personal view, things in libya always remain difficult and uncertain and could give all that any moment into further problems and result in the loss of life at. sst members were fully integrated with the diplomatic security people there and worked through and under all these difficult circumstances. i have a couple of things here i am trying to find.
there were numerous incidents, a lawless situation was pretty much the norm. there were assassinations that went on, lots of loyalists to muammar gaddafi and so forth. along a border town where it drained a lot of resources from the fledgling government, insurgent activity going on down there. there was no reports of what king -- weapons smuggling in and out of the country. there was a loss of control of weapons here, previously mentioned or the soldier fired missiles and tanks and anti- aircraft guns being able to be found in the possession of almost anyone in libya. tribal interests frequently competed with each other and resulted in firefights.
it was a common occurrence. when i first arrived on the ground, i got to where i could recognize a celebratory gunfire from shooting at each other. that did die off a little bit but we did notice an increase in targeted attacks toward americans. this spelled out to me that the country was far from secure and the sst as it had been originally conceived was still in need in that location. >> in a document produced in late july, and i have that document right here, it documents over 230 events in libya from june of 2011. mr. nordstrom included this in part of his assessment of the security environment. prior to this attack, didn't the red cross and british consulate
move out of libya? >> yes sir, that is entirely correct. the british consulate moved out when i was there and there was a nou to leave our weapons there and it would come back and do their work and return them and leave. the attack on the international red cross was another attacked that involved us and threats to the compound in benghazi. threats were made on facebook to the remaining western influences there, being the red cross and u.s. embassy compound. the red cross was attacked with grenades in early june. when it was attacked the second time, they made a decision they were going to give up in
benghazi. when that occurred, it was apparent to me that we were the last like flying in been gauzy -- last flag of flying in benghazi. i voiced my concern that the key meeting and it's a difficult thing, the country team was left with no options at that point to try and change the security profile. the resources had been withdrawn, the decision to not renew the sst was a pretty much a foregone conclusion by that time. i urge them to do something to include withdrawal from benghazi, but i knew that was impossible at times. >> with the gentleman yield to the question are >> unhappily yield to the chairman. >> colonel, you weren't there
on september 11, mr. nordstrom, you were not there on september a lot. i endorse and several americans successfully got out alive. the three armed individuals who represented libyan nationals survive. from your experience, from your combat experience and training, both of you, what is the marginal difference between everybody to get out at half or so getting out? the state department has been saying effectively that nothing could have stopped this. it was so overwhelming. my question is what would it take? would it one more armed agent made a difference that everyone would have got now? to more or three more? we will never know for sure, what's the difference between chaos and control in a firefight?
>> superior weapons and superior tactics. that is what the sst brought to the table. those are the attributes and bolstering effect they had to diplomatic security and the supplier and. when they were on the ground, those qualities were there and when we left, they were no longer available. >> you would agree they did bring that if it became necessary? >> absolutely. in tripoli, i was never concerned we would be able to repel any sort of assault there. >> thank you. >> i ask for unanimous consent -- you went to in a half minutes
over. would the gentleman from virginia in yield? >> the gentleman from virginia had six minutes. would you consider yielding to the ranking member? >> i was hoping the chairman was going to say yes unanimous consent to give a minute and a half to the ranking member and i would gladly wait for that request. >> take what you get. without objection, so ordered. >> thank you very much. i want to go back to something you wrote in a restatement in reference to the question the chairman just ask you -- and i'm reading from page #2- having an extra foot of wall or extra half a dozen guards or ages would not have enabled us to respond to that kind of assault. did you write that? >> yes, i did and i still believe that. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and
thank you ranking member. picking up on my friend from tennessee's remarks. i was a young staff member in the early '80s when ronald reagan was in the white house and our marine and the unit was attacked by a truck bomb at the beirut airport. dozens of young americans were killed. i had just been to beirut on a senate staff study and shortly after i returned, our embassy was bombed in downtown beirut, killing many more americans, including a good friend of mine who work for usaid. it is very serious business. when tragedies occur in a dangerous world, to attempt to exploit it politically, and i know we're not trying to do that 27 days out from an election,